Foster Parenting Frequently Asked Questions


What is a foster parent?

A foster parent is someone who truly loves children and youth and seeks to make a positive impact on their lives. Foster parents extend themselves as a source of stability and comfort for foster children after they have experienced traumatic events. Foster parents are trained and provide a temporary and/or permanent home for children and youth in need of assistance. Foster parents aim to help children be their best selves and provide the love and care they may not have been previously exposed to. Foster parents prioritize interacting with children in ways that promote growth and healthy development.


Who can be a foster parent?

You don't have to be perfect to be a perfect parent. Ideal foster parents are people who are stable, mature, dependable, and flexible. Adults that are warm, persistent, and understanding are essential in helping foster children and youth adapt and become comfortable after they have experienced trauma.


Who are the children in foster care?

Children and youth enter foster care because they have been abused, neglected, and abandoned by their parents or guardians. They range in age from infants to 21 years old. All of these children have experienced some form of loss or trauma and need a patient, supportive, and understanding foster parent to provide them with stability until they can be placed in a permanent home.


Do I have to be married to become a foster parent?

No, you do not have to be married. Single people, as well as married couples, have the option to become foster parents.


Is there income or housing requirements to become a foster parent?

Potential foster parents must have a regular source of income to support current monthly expenses, as well as rent or own their own apartment or home with at least one bedroom available.


What are some of the basic qualifications to become a foster parent?

To become a foster parent you:

  • Must be at least 21 years of age
  • Adequate physical and mental health clearance certified by a healthcare professional
  • Be single or married
  • May or may not have children of your own
  • Adequate income to support your own family
  • Must pass a health and fire inspection
  • Be willing to work in the best interest of the child 


What is the first step to become a foster parent?

The first step is attending an information meeting to learn the basics of fostering a child. Click here to view upcoming meeting dates, and to enroll now. You may also express your interest by calling the Baltimore City Department of Social Services at 410-685-8231 or


How long is the process to become a foster parent?

The process of becoming a foster parent can be time consuming and requires a serious commitment. It typically takes an average of 12 weeks to complete the steps required to become a foster parent; this includes submitting the initial application, undergoing a home study, and attending the necessary training.


What happens after I'm approved as a foster parent?

After being approved:

  • A child will likely be placed in your home
  • You will receive a monthly foster care stipend to cover the expenses of caring for the child
  • You will receive ongoing support from your case worker
  • You will receive additional financial support for the child in care, including health care 


How long will my foster child be in my care?

The Baltimore City Department of Social Services aims to place all foster children into a permanent living arrangement within a maximum of 15 months from the date they enter foster care.


Where can I get more information?

To express your interest in fostering and get more information on the process contact the Baltimore City Department of Social Services at 410-685-8231 or submit a contact form here.